Dirt: The Erosion of Civilizations

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University of California Press, May 14, 2007 - Nature - 295 pages
61 Reviews
Dirt, soil, call it what you want it's everywhere we go. It is the root of our existence, supporting our feet, our farms, our cities. This fascinating yet disquieting book finds, however, that we are running out of dirt, and it's no laughing matter. An engaging natural and cultural history of soil that sweeps from ancient civilizations to modern times, "Dirt: The Erosion of Civilizations "explores the compelling idea that we are and have long been using up Earth's soil. Once bare of protective vegetation and exposed to wind and rain, cultivated soils erode bit by bit, slowly enough to be ignored in a single lifetime but fast enough over centuries to limit the lifespan of civilizations. A rich mix of history, archaeology and geology, "Dirt "traces the role of soil use and abuse in the history of Mesopotamia, Ancient Greece, the Roman Empire, China, European colonialism, Central America, and the American push westward. We see how soil has shaped us and we have shaped soil as society after society has risen, prospered, and plowed through a natural endowment of fertile dirt. David R. Montgomery sees in the recent rise of organic and no-till farming the hope for a new agricultural revolution that might help us avoid the fate of previous civilizations."
 

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Review: Dirt: The Erosion of Civilizations

User Review  - Lewis Lacook - Goodreads

Crucial call for taking our soil seriously. The prose is dry, and to often shrill, but the message is worth the slog. Read full review

Review: Dirt: The Erosion of Civilizations

User Review  - Colby - Goodreads

I will preface this review by saying that I am an assistant professor of soil science in a department of agronomy at a land grant institution in the US, and happen to teach several classes on soil ... Read full review

All 39 reviews »

Contents

2 SKIN OF THE EARTH
9
3 RIVERS OF LIFE
27
4 GRAVEYARD OF EMPIRES
49
5 LET THEM EAT COLONIES
83
6 WESTWARD HOE
115
7 DUST BLOW
145
8 DIRTY BUSINESS
179
9 ISLANDS IN TIME
217
10 LIFE SPAN OF CIVILIZATIONS
233
NOTES
247
BIBLIOGRAPHY
251
INDEX
271
Copyright

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About the author (2007)

David R. Montgomery, Professor of Earth and Space Sciences at the University of Washington, is author of King of Fish: The Thousand-Year Run of Salmon.

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